Can Nuclear Power Plants Benefit from the Bitcoin Mining Industry
There has been a great deal of criticism lately concerning bitcoin’s tendency to use more energy than a whole country. The claim is hotly disputed and some even say that it is better to use the excess energy than to waste it, which is something that bitcoin can do. But – wait a moment, while it is true that it may be better, it relies on the assumption that there is actually excess energy to burn.
Bitcoin mining verifies transactions using a proof of work concept and it is a process that utilizes a high amount of electrical power. The process takes place in facilities called mining farms that features special hardware.
The hardware is equipped with ASIC chips. Many challenge how much energy bitcoin actually uses because there is no reliable data about the consumption of the whole network, except from a single Antminer S9i, which has an energy consumption of 1,320 watts.
Right now, bitcoin mining is also in its early stages and it uses less energy that many established industries, including the banking center. Some argue that because the world is not connected in a single grid, the farms are built close to energy sources where there is unutilized energy. Further, when they are placed closed to power plants, the mining operations use the excess energy, which is good for the plant because it leads to better safety standards.
Nuclear fusion is the process of releasing energy into a nuclear reactor and it cannot be stopped or paused, but rather, simply temporarily restrained. Nuclear power plants use the nuclear reaction in a controlled manner to boil water, which then runs through giant turbines to generate the electricity. The more it runs through, a higher amount of efficiency is created. If excess energy is not used, it is wasted.
Further, the energy generated by nuclear reactors are not needed at all times of the day. There are fluctuations in consumption, which may leave excess energy. And even though plant operators can change the power supply of the grid, it is never really easy to ensure that there is just enough – most times, there tends to be more.
A recent study by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that integration of renewable energy sources is a major factor that promotes the need for flexible nuclear operations. Nuclear generation promotes the mitigation of negative impact of insufficient connections between national and general grids, and moreover, inflexible generation mixes seen in some countries.
Nuclear power is also more controllable by human intervention and it is more efficient and cheaper than renewable energy sources — but keep in mind, these are contested claims, not facts. Just assuming they are true, then nuclear power and mining’s consumption of excess energy may be a positive option to promote stability of the electric power system.